Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Dining Room Light

I've lived in my home for over two years now. I had a list of things I'd want to update in this place from day one. Those things range from simple fixes to more major undertakings. For example, I needed to swap out the builder grade boob light for a more appropriate fixture. Seems pretty easy, doesn't it? Well, the hardest part for me was finding a light that I really wanted. I scoured many a catalog, retail shop, hotel, antique store and friends homes for inspiration -- and really found nothing that screamed to me.

I had some friends (McGino) coming over for dinner and I really didn't want them to see my house with a bad builder grade boob light -- interestingly enough I've had dozens of people over for dinner seeing this less than adequate light, but in my mind (from the day I moved in)
I would have this light replaced before McGino came over. After I got back from Africa I had 8 days until McGino were coming for dinner -- now I gotta put this fix into high gear.

My dining table is 100+ years old, solid oak without dining chairs. This table belonged to my great-great grandma. I wouldn't have purchased this table on my own, but I do really like it now that it is mine -- and I have no intention of getting rid of it. The rest of my house is much more contemporary -- so I need to find a way to balance an antique table with modern surroundings. I thought about getting a more classical chandelier but just didn't like the idea of how the whole thing would look. I decided to visit Room and Board for further design inspirations -- what did I find...a LIGHTING SALE. I snapped about 40 pictures of various lighting fixtures with measurements and hurried home to view them in my space. The decision was quite easy when it came to design, but size was another question. I wanted something big and bold -- after a long discussion with Mike I opted to purchase the medium size saucer. I bought it on a Friday and dinner was on Saturday.

Never before had I installed a light fixture before. Mike was very nervous about me doing it, as he is terrified of electrical work -- but c'mon, how hard could it be? Last year I added dimmer switches and didn't get electrocuted -- and as of this moment there hasn't been a fire. I wasn't going to pay an electrician $200 to install a light that would probably tak
e him 15 minutes and me less than an hour.

I hurried home, unpacked the light and cut the power to the dining room -- well, I cut the power to the entire first floor, just to be on the safe side. I measure (and measure and remeasure) the cord so I'd know where to cut -- allowing the perfect amount of space above the table. I follow the directions perfectly and measure again and cut the cord. The next direction said "now loop the cord to provide support" -- so the properly cut cord was now too damn short after I tied a loop knot in it. The lesson here is to read all of the directions before starting.

I continue to install this light -- but I don't have a ladder or a second set of hands to help me, so I stand on a dining room chair. It wasn't quite tall enough but it worked well while I was uninstalling the boob . The real issue came when I tried to install Nelson -- I couldn't hold the fixture at the right height while I hard wired the electrical. Instead of asking anyone for help, I had to find a way to do this on my own -- damn pride. I needed a higher chair/ladder to stand on and needed something to hold the fixture while installing...I opted to move my couch under the lamp to stand on and then put two dining chairs on top of the table to hold the light. Not the most graceful or safe option, but it worked.
I installed the light, it looked good and I didn't fall (a very real possibility). I stood back and just stared...while it is up higher than I anticipated, it looked pretty good. Now the real test -- will the light actually produce light and not sparks and fire. I pull out the fire extinguisher and walk back to the circuit breaker...flip the switch....and walk back to the dining room. Fingers crossed...I slide the dimmer switch up and....LIGHT! We have light! It worked. No sparks, no fire, no smoke nothing, but light. It worked...who knew? Filled with pride I clean up the mess I created and trashed the boxes. Checking my watch, I realized it took me 45 minutes from the time I walked in the door until the whole project was done. I'm pretty impressed with my skills -- and I realize it's not really that wild and crazy to install a new dining light, but it was my second real electrical work -- both of which turned very successful.

Other things on my update list for my house:
  • Update the guest room to feel more hotel/sanctuary like
  • Install ceiling fans in the bed rooms (perhaps)
  • Install a back splash in the kitchen
  • Update the 3rd floor lanai to feel more like a comfortable outdoor room
  • Repaint the entire house -- normal nicks, scratches and scuffs really annoy me.

2 comments:

David said...

Looks good! The electrical stuff makes me a bit nervous as well. Did the light in our bedroom, and it isn't totally right... In the off position, with compact fluorescent bulbs there is a light hum, incandescence bulbs are totally off. On, almost off switch I suppose.

We have a mess of wires after we removed our hot tub that I believe to be some weird variation of 220V, I think I'll need a professional for. Though supposedly the previous owner of this house was an electrician and left it in a state that doesn't seem up to code. We've had a plumber bill us plenty for not fixing our issues, and would probably have to maim the next thief.

Jennifer said...

The electrical stuff is a little scary ever since I found out that our old house had a bad ground and I got a little buzz while uninstalling the dishwasher that was hard wired to the house. I have hung a ceiling fan that I actually had to modify because it hung way too low and that worked out pretty well. I'm looking to replace the lights in our bedroom and the guest room as well not sure what yet though. As for the hot tub David, it's likely hooked into your circut box, that's how my parents hot tub is and yeah I think it's one of those things you'll have to pay someone to come out and take care of.